January 4, 2016

"Periodic table's seventh row finally filled as four new elements are added."

"Discovery of four super-heavy chemical elements by scientists in Russia, America and Japan has been verified by experts and formally added to table."

34 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Discovery of them seems an odd choice of words. The theoretical existence of these elements as well as their expected decay, was already figured out. And at no point could the scientists say we currently have an atom of this element. They only knew that they had had one after it had decayed.

Michael in ArchDen said...

"Discovery" also seems like an odd choice, as they are all synthetic (definitely NOT "manmade" you sexist pigs!). It's weird to say that you "discovered" something you intended to create.

Original Mike said...

They didn't discover them. They built them.

Gahrie said...

My favorite part is the addendum:

This article was amended on 4 January 2016. The reference to the new elements being “manmade” was changed to “synthetic” to follow Guardian style guidance on the use of gender-neutral terms.

Manmade is gender neutral you idiots...

Why don't the gender harpies attack other languages for a while and leave English alone.

Here's an example...what is the Spanish word for parents? That's right...fathers.

I don't hear anyone giving Spanish shit.

Ann Althouse said...

I sense outrage. But what about the outrage of seeing those spaces unfilled?

Bob Ellison said...

Damn it! Now I have to call the caterer.

Michael in ArchDen said...

No outrage from me. It seems to me that given our understanding of atomic theory, you could (in theory, at least) build a nearly infinite number of new elements. I'm sure someone smarter than me may be able to explain why that's not true, but I doubt we are anywhere near any actual limit.

The periodic table is also already organized in a way that's not geometrically symmetrical, so incomplete rows don't bother me at all.

jaydub said...

When I was studying ChemE 50 years ago, there were only four elements in the Periodic Table - fire, air, water and dirt. It's got really complicated since then. We also spent a lot more time trying to change lead into gold than they seem to do now.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

"The reference to the new elements being “manmade” was changed to “synthetic” to follow Guardian style guidance on the use of gender-neutral terms."

I have just about had it with these clowns.
Before we decide if this is worth discussing, we will have to critically examine the pattern on the shirts of these chemists. That is where the outrage will lie.

The Godfather said...

New heavy elements, yet not one of them named for Al Gore? It's a disgrace!

n.n said...

Discovery or creation?

The newly classified elements may one day serve a purpose, or reveal a greater insight; but, they are not viable, and are merely seat fillers.

Off with their protons, neutrons, and electrons too!

There is an insight wrapped in a penumbra surrounding corporal evolution.

Fritz said...

No outrage here. They've been building new ones all the way past Uranium (although Neptunium and Plutonium may make occasional brief appearances in nature, that's not where they were discovered).

I see they haven't found the "island of stability" yet.

Iapetus said...

n.n raises a good point. Since those elements do not exist in nature and are each synthetic, they were created rather than discovered. The word discover can mean "observe" but there was nothing to observe until the elements were artificially created in the laboratory.

Fernandinande said...

The reference to the new elements being “manmade” was changed to “synthetic” to follow Guardian style guidance on the use of gender-neutral terms.

Gender neutral because naughty men created them.

Guardian: "Women's inventions - the hits and misses" Seven *major* non-gender-neutral inventions in only 104 years!

Original Mike said...

"I sense outrage."

No, just paying attention to language. That's valued here, right?

Fritz said...

Michael in ArchDen said...
No outrage from me. It seems to me that given our understanding of atomic theory, you could (in theory, at least) build a nearly infinite number of new elements. I'm sure someone smarter than me may be able to explain why that's not true, but I doubt we are anywhere near any actual limit.


The problem is the building units keep falling apart as you try to assemble them. That's why the "island of stability" is a goal. If they can get a heavy element that hangs together long enough to bombard with more particles, they can presumably make more

The periodic table is also already organized in a way that's not geometrically symmetrical, so incomplete rows don't bother me at all.

The underlying geometry is from shells of electrons, which follow some amusing rules.

Crimso said...

"I'm sure someone smarter than me may be able to explain why that's not true, but I doubt we are anywhere near any actual limit."

I have no idea if I'm smarter than you, and nuclear chemistry is not exactly my specialty, but I'll take a crack at it. The more protons you have in a nucleus, the more they repel each other. You need neutrons to help minimize this (they could possibly shield protons from each other, but I think there are deeper mechanisms at work), so as you go to higher and higher atomic numbers, the numbers of neutrons needed increases, and eventually (slightly above atomic number 92?) you reach a size that just isn't stable for very long (cosmologically large conglomerations of neutrons, on the other hand, can last a long time; thus neutron stars). And "very long" ends up being fractions of a second. I think we approach a limit, but as Fritz notes, there is a predicted "island of stability." But that's stable in relative terms. I don't expect any chemistry to be done with any of them up in the triple digit atomic numbers.

Michael K said...

" there were only four elements in the Periodic Table "

Mendeleev would not be amused.

I wonder if they will name one "Unobtanium?" I understand that was the fictional element in that awful movie.

Personally, I prefer "Governmentium" because you can do so much with it.

The Higgs boson is an evanescent particle expiring after nanoseconds, while the Higgs ratchet seems to be a robust phenomenon, which has alternately been identified as “Governmentium” on the periodic table of the elements:

The heaviest chemical element yet known to science. Governmentium (Gv) has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second. Governmentium has a normal half-life of three years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium–an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.


What a marvelous scientific development !

RichardJohnson said...

Last words from Tom Lehrer's The Elements: "These are the only ones of which the news has come to Haavard.There's many many others but they haven't been discovered."
Now they have been. Por ahora. For now.

Unknown said...

In what way are these things "elements"? They exist for a blindingly brief moment after being created in the lab, and never in nature. Just an exercise for egotistical scientists.

chuckR said...

The densest of the new elements should be named Barackium, after the densest human I can think of.

hoyden said...

New elements are like a certain popular sighting, "Look! Bigfoot!....Oh, he's gone now."

Jack Wayne said...

The outrage is over the continuing debasement of science by people looking for 15 minutes of fame followed by tenure. Physics has become a joke.

chickelit said...

Discovery is apt because although the target elements may be the ones sought after, new insight and knowledge is nearly always gained. For example, radiodecay signatures which cannot be predicted. Also, as a general scientific puzzle, why does the much sought after "Island of Stability" still elude the atomsmiths?

Smilin' Jack said...

No outrage from me. It seems to me that given our understanding of atomic theory, you could (in theory, at least) build a nearly infinite number of new elements. I'm sure someone smarter than me may be able to explain why that's not true, but I doubt we are anywhere near any actual limit.

Past about atomic number 137, the electric field surrounding the nucleus becomes strong enough to pull electron-positron pairs from the vacuum. The electrons combine with the protons in the nucleus to form neutrons, so the atomic number (number of protons) cannot increase beyond that limit. Yes, I am smarter than you.

chickelit said...

Ann Althouse said...
I sense outrage. But what about the outrage of seeing those spaces unfilled?

I get your point and appreciate it. So did J. Robert Oppenheimer:

It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them.
~J. Robert Oppenheimer

Biff said...

Original Mike said..."They didn't discover them. They built them."

"Building them" has the whiff of engineering and applied science, and that's nowhere near as prestigious as being a theoretician or a "basic research" scientist.

Quaestor said...

Barackium, infinitely dense... a black hole, as it were?

OMG! Racist trigger! Microaggression!

Michael K said...

"Physics has become a joke."

No, real Physics is intact. It is the fake sciences like "Climate Science" that are jokes.

You can do experiments with real Physics.

Carl Pham said...

You can't have atoms with an arbitrarily large number of protons. The reason is not hard to understand. Protons attract each other by the strong force, which is very strong but has a short range. They repel each other by the electromagnetic force, which is much weaker but has an infinite range. When the nucleus gets big enough, the protons on opposite sides of it are too far apart for the net strong attraction between them to overcome the net electromagnetic repulsion, and the nucleus falls apart.

So that's easy. There's an upper limit on the size of an atomic nucleus. But what is it? This is where it gets very, very complicated. It's not just the relative strengths of the two forces. You have to understand the structure of the nucleus -- how the nucleons arrange themselves in it, including their motions (they are not motionless), and you have to figure out how all those forces add up and average, and whether it is strictly impossible for the nucleus to hold together at all, or whether it is merely very probably that it will fall apart very soon. There's a profound difference between those two concepts -- for anyone with some training, it's the difference between unstable to a finite and an infinitismal perturbation.

To be able to calculate whether a given nucleus is stable requires you to have exquisite mastery of the physics of the strong force, the electromagnetic force, nuclear structure, and nuclear dynamics. It's a whole lot of very fundamental physics all tied together. Conversely, an experimental determination of the upper limits of stability, or even of the relative stability of this versus that nucleus, serves as a strong test of any of those theories. If your theory predicts Element 119 has a half-life of 10 ps and it actually turns out to be 0.1 ps -- oops, back to the drawing board. (And for all we know something much more dramatic might happen, like theory predicts an absolute upper limit of Z=137 and someone makes Z=140. That's the kind of glaring mismatch between theory and experiment of which physicists dream, the kind of thing that like the aether-drift experiment could lead to entirely new physics.)

Hence the attempt to create new elements is a very valuable test of current theories of atomic physics, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than something like the LHC. That's why people do it. That's why it's valuable. Think of it as the equivalent of crash-testing automobiles, which tests how good your calculation of their mechanical properties is.

Also, while these atoms are synthesized by men here on Earth, that does not imply they have never been synthesized by nature. Indeed, it would be expected that nature has certainly synthesized gigatons of even the most fleetingly evanescent element there could possibly be, in the same way she synthesized all the elements above iron in the Periodic Table -- in the shells of a supernova, where energy on scales human beings will never touch abounds. If there were enough close-by supernovae, we could substitute taking delicate measurements of their spectra for trying to synthesize the atoms ourselves. But then again, if there were that many close-by supernovae they would've prevented the emergence of life, or have snuffed it out not long after it got started.

n.n said...

Iapetus:

To be fair, they may have existed, do exist, or will exist. Since they have limited viability within the scope of natural and enhanced human perception, determining their state and origin in time and space (or perhaps just space) is outside the current limited frame of reference encouraged by scientific philosophy.

Michael in ArchDen said...

Thanks to the commenters who explained the upper limit to atomic structures.

Yes, you are smarter than me, and I appreciate the efforts to illuminate!

Gem Quincyite said...

that guy holding the chart looks like a Asian Clint Howard....

Unknown said...

so the fundamental question is, did MEN make the elements or were women involved in the manufacturing process?